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It’s no secret San Diego has a housing shortage, and has been struggling with this for years. Its latest solution to this crisis is to encourage the building of granny flats on existing properties. Essentially, granny flats allow parents of adult children to live close by in their own space, or they can be used to generate rental income. Families are returning to the good old days of multi-generational living arrangements, but they’re not just putting granny in an extra bedroom at the back of the house. They’re actually giving granny her own home in a separate space on the property.
It’s the best of both worlds. Adult children can better take care of Mom or Dad while being very close by, yet because the homes are separate entities, privacy is the main benefit of this buffer zone.
With real estate at a premium these days, it’s tougher than ever to buy a house within your budget, let alone one that’s ideally located close to work, school, etc. To combat this struggle to find quality, affordable housing, San Diego County has found a way to remove some of the red tape that can get in the way. The answer: granny flats.
Thus, San Diego is making it cheaper and easier to build granny flats by providing multiple pre-approved design plans that property owners can use to speed up the permitting process and save thousands on architectural work, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Bridging the Gap

The hope here is that the simplified, less costly process will prompt more people to build granny flats, yet another way to close the housing gap and assist low-income seniors, veterans and others at risk for homelessness. The county has also waived $15,000 in permit and development fees for granny flats.
Granny flats aren’t just for senior citizens on fixed incomes, they’re considered ideal for recent college graduates and young people with lower-paying jobs who can’t afford the high rent and mortgage of a single family home near the city. On top of boosting the local housing supply, granny flats are generating income for homeowners so they won’t struggle as much to meet their mortgage every month.
It’s easy to obtain everything needed for a building permit, as the floor plans, elevations, and roof plans are not only permit-ready, but downloadable as well. The approval process has been streamlined as well, making it “over the counter.” This means a property owner can secure all the approvals necessary to build a granny flat in one day with a visit to the Development Services Department downtown.
Because you can get your plans reviewed on the same day, there’s no need to wait two weeks to get plan corrections back.

A Few Words on the Housing Shortage

Well, it’s really nothing new, but it still needs to be said. The dire situation in which the region finds itself was not a sudden occurrence. In a nutshell, San Diego County has simply not built enough homes to keep pace with the rate of economic and population growth for decades.
Californians say housing affordability is a huge problem. Just 27 percent of households can afford the price tag of a median home in this area, at $655,000. In fact, low-income San Diegans spend almost their entire paycheck on rent, according to the Voice of San Diego. San Diego’s lack of homebuilding since 2010 has resulted in 59,000 fewer units than what is required to match the population growth that has happened in that time. The region is great at adding jobs and people to its ranks, but housing to fit them all? Not so much. Ever since a recession hit Southern California in the early 1990s, homebuilding never recovered, and today it’s still struggling to keep up.
This latest effort by San Diego to improve the housing situation through pre-approved design plans is all well and good, but it still costs money to build any type of dwelling. That’s where rehab loans come in. Rehab loans make it easier to increase the square footage and value of a home, as buyers are paying more for larger homes with more living space, especially with a granny flat or rental unit.

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